Tight battle for Finals MVP plum » Manila Bulletin Sports



Alex Cabagnot (L) and Chris Ross (R) (MB photo)

Alex Cabagnot (L) and Chris Ross (R)

by Waylon Galvez

The question of who’s the ‘Best Player of the Conference’ between San Miguel Beer backcourt Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot still hangs in the air and yet another one already is begging to be asked in the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals:

Who will be the Finals MVP?

This early in the best-of-7 series, Ross and Cabagnot appears to be the frontrunners after leading SMB’s attack in the back-to-back wins that gave the Beermen a 2-1 advantage over TNT KaTropa, promising another down-the-wire finish for an individual award.

Cabagnot scored 28 points on 10-of-23 shooting from the field and a perfect 8-of-8 from foul line with nine rebounds, six assists and a steal in almost 39 minutes in a 109-97 win in Game 3 Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Not to be outdone, Ross contributed 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting, nailing half of his eight attempts from the three-point area while adding three rebounds, five assists and four steals in nearly 34 minutes three nights ago.

In San Miguel’s 102-88 victory in Game 2, Ross put up better numbers with 20 points, five rebounds, nine assist and four steals, while Cabagnot went with 13 points, four rebounds, six assists and a steal that leveled the series at 1-1.

But nothing is cast in stone.

TNT won the series opener, 104-102, last Wednesday where TNT rookie RR Pogoy exploded with a career-best 27 points, while Jayson Castro contributed 14 points, making them possible candidates for the finals MVP award.

The Finals MVP is an award given by members of the PBA Press Corps right after the championship round. Ross twice pocketed the plum when SMB bagged the Philippine Cup last season as it rallied back from a 3-0 deficit, and this season when it downed Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 4-1, in their seven-game series.

Cabagnot, for his part, has yet to win the award despite winning five titles with the Beermen.

The two are in a tight race for their first Best Player of the Conference (BPC) award after they finished tied on top at the end of the semifinals. The winner of the BPC, as well as the Best Import award, will be announced tomorrow before Game 4 of the Finals.

Ross, at eighth spot after the eliminations, jumped to No. 1 to tie Cabagnot – the leader after the elimination round – with similar 34.125 Statistical Points (SP), as the former averaged 13.19 points, 5.19 rebounds, 8.06 assists and 2.94 steals, while the latter has 15.13 points, 6.56 rebounds, 5.06 assists and 1.19 steals.

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